Happy birthday, Tango! Our oldest lion turned 20 on August 12, 2012, and is doing great.
It was hard to pick which of Tango’s many treasures we should offer her on her big day. Our big cat fans already know she loves her bones and many rope toys, but she also loves pumpkins. Yes, pumpkins! She responds to them in the same manner she does to ropes and bones.
We recently placed one on exhibit for her. Once she spotted it out front, she went right for it and carried it back to her bed, where she likes to keep her treasures. She also has a fire hose toy, which, of course, always ends up in one of her “beds.” She collects boxes as well. This summer we have been putting more beds around her exhibit. Currently she has been favoring the bed in her grass area. She carries her treasures around with her from bed to bed, depending on the time of day and her preference.
We also have been playing tug-o-war with her. There is one rope toy in particular she loves to tug on. We have a special chute in her door that allows us to safely play tug-o-war with her. She gets very excited and vocal, chattering away while we put her rope in place. She continues to talk while she’s playing and after she wins. Tango always wins. I have to admit that it is not much of a war when playing with Tango—she is super strong for her old age! Tango uses her whole body to tug, which gives her great exercise that strengthens her muscles.
Since it was hard to pick just one of Tango’s treasures to give on her birthday, we offered her a birthday box containing a rope toy, her bone, and as many ropes as she could carry! Tango had a great day, moving from bed to bed with her treasures. The hardest part of her day was deciding which treasure to take where!
Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Lioness Tango: A Girl and Her Toys.